The Energy Foundation works to reduce carbon emissions from the electric and gas utility industry by advancing energy efficiency and renewable energy and by reducing power generation from conventional coal-fired power plants.
U.S. power plants discharge nearly three-quarters of the country's acid rain emissions (sulfur dioxide), over one-third of greenhouse gas emissions (carbon dioxide), one-third of its smog emissions (nitrogen oxide), one-third of particulate matter pollution, half of its nuclear waste, and one-quarter of toxic heavy metal emissions.
Renewable energy technologies such as wind, geothermal, photovoltaic, and biomass have made major advances in the past decade. Policy reforms have created a $70 billion renewable market. By expanding and improving these policies, renewables could play a significant role in meeting future U.S. energy needs. To achieve this potential, we also support policy reforms that will develop the transmission of renewables to population centers while respecting land and wildlife.
Energy efficiency is a powerful way to meet current and future demand for electric power and natural gas. Experience shows that energy can be saved for less than half the cost of generating that electricity or supplying natural gas. Over time, one-third of current U.S. electricity and gas requirements could be met through energy efficiency.
The power sector supports work in the following areas:
- Policies that yield large-scale purchases of renewable energy;
- Policies that open the electric system to renewable power and associated transmission while supporting resource conservation;
- Policies that yield substantial investments to improve energy efficiency by consumers of electric power and natural gas;
- Policies that remove market and regulatory barriers to renewables, efficiency, and clean distributed generation;
- Resistance to permitting and regulatory approvals for new conventional coal-fired power plants;
- Campaigns to reduce greenhouse gases by directing new utility investments toward clean energy resources;
- Secure stricter performance standards for emissions from new and existing coal plants, including greenhouse gases; and
- Regulatory controls for carbon capture and sequestration systems.